Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Thanksgiving Day 13:
One Grand Mother

The Bible uses the term "grandmother" only once and she is Timothy's grandmother. Her name means agreeable or desirable. She would most likely have been a quiet woman but she was instrumental in bringing up her young grandson in the way he should go.

Her name was Lois.

We too have a Lois in the TH and no one could have been more well named. Our Lois is a midwife by calling and profession. She has been actively present at the birth of hundreds of babies. She has worked in the Philippines and in India and in Haiti. Any newborn baby who has been "caught" by Lois has no idea how blessed he or she is to have the first hands to touch you -- to cradle you as you draw your first breath, to clear your passages so that you can cry, can eat, can live -- the first hands to care for you as you enter this world, be Lois's.

I have been so very fortunate to have Lois work with me in the TH on and off for several years. She is in charge of the kitchen and I know that when she is in it the day will go smoothly and the food will be good and the atmosphere will be harmonious.

She is talented in so many ways. But how she avoids the spotlight! She is not one to push herself forward: one time I asked her if she wanted a break from the kitchen, if she would like to work up front in the dining room so that customers could see her, and her response was that she just wanted to work where she could be most useful. The only time she has willingly stepped in front of a crowd is when we threw her a "Babies' shower" in the TH to raise money and baby clothes for the desperately poor families with whom she would come into contact on her trips to the Philippines and Haiti this summer. And that evening, in her understated, inclusive way, she instructed about forty people on what it was like to be a midwife in these impoverished regions. We sang. We danced. We laughed. We did multiple choice quizzes. We sampled Philippino cuisine. We all left with a feeling of awe and gratitude at what this wonderful woman has accomplished; and we were challenged to give, to do, to BE the best we could.

Our Lois is wise beyond her years, kind, compassionate, industrious, with a great sense of humour and gentleness. What I appreciate most about her is how she nurtures the young staff members under her direction. Somehow she sees through the bravado or the anxiety to the heart of the person, and from there she draws what is good and strong and true from each one.

She never appears to chasten: her ability to discover and then coax and encourage the best out of the staff can be found in the value she places on each one's individual strengths and the respect she offers them. She invests her time and her knowledge and guides them by example as well as by words. She genuinely enjoys them and cares for them.

We have had four Timothys in recent days who have been the beneficiaries of working with Lois: Matt, Brent, Curtis and Corinne. Four very different personalities unify and work as a team under her aegis.

We have Lois for only a couple more months before she moves on to the next stage of her life. But everyone in the TH, myself included, will be marked and changed by the great influence she exerts so quietly.

And from Paul's letter to his young friend Timothy, I discovered the reason Lois is so successful in all she does and is so loved by those with whom she comes into contact. Paul writes to his friend, "But the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith."

Lois is the crown jewel of Nilgiris.

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